80,000 wait longer than 30 minutes for an ambulance in the North East
By Paul Edgeworth
Figures reveal 81,000 ambulance delays of over half hour for seriously ill patients in the North East last year.
The number of seriously ill patients in the North East of England having to wait over half an hour for an ambulance has significantly increased in the past year, new data uncovered by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has revealed.
There were 81,044 waits of over half an hour for so-called category two emergencies in 2019/20, which include heart attacks, strokes and serious injury or trauma. This is an increase from 50,056 delays of half an hour or more the year before in 2018/19.
Ambulance trusts should respond to Category 2 calls in 18 minutes on average, because they are classed as a potentially serious condition that may require rapid assessment.
There was also a steep increase in the number of longer delays. 22,084 category two calls took over one hour to respond to last year, up from 7,774 the previous year. And the number of category two calls in the region taking over two hours to respond to soared from 175 to 1,711.
The figures were uncovered through Freedom of Information requests from the North East Ambulance Service.
Commenting, Wearside Lib Dems spokesperson Paul Edgeworth said:
"This massive increase in people waiting over 30 minutes and even over an hour for an ambulance to arrive is really worrying. Waiting a long time for an ambulance to arrive could be the difference between life and death.
"If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that we need to invest in and support all parts of our NHS. Our paramedics and ambulance service do an outstanding job working flat out, often in really difficult circumstances.
"The least the Government can do is make sure the North East Ambulance Service has the funding, resources and staffing they need so that people in Sunderland and across the North East aren't faced with long delays."
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran commented:
"These shocking figures reveal the incredible pressure our ambulance services were under even before this pandemic struck.
"Seriously ill patients, often in need of urgent treatment, are being left waiting for hours for an ambulance to arrive.
"The Government must urgently tackle staff and funding shortages in our ambulance services so they can cope with a second wave.
"We need to invest in frontline services so that patients get the care they deserve."